Archive for the 'News and Current Events' Category

Why Sarah Palin Quit

image Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska announced on the 4th of July that she is ending her term early and not seeking a second term.

Sometimes it’s just easier to get out. Starting anew means pursuing other opportunities to win. Whether she’s headed for a presidential campaign or president of the PTA doesn’t matter. Her stint as governor of Alaska and her bid at the vice-presidency of the U.S. didn’t go the way she’d wanted so maybe it seems better just to end it and call it quits. Why stick it out for more humiliation?

Palin’s a success by many people’s standards but she obviously hasn’t been the best at everything (understatement of the year). Along with the success, there have also been failure and embarrassment.

I understand her decision because I think I’m a bit like Sarah Palin (although hopefully not quite as barracuda-like). I would also guess she suffers from imposter syndrome. And when she says that she has “never been one to waste time or resources,” I think she’s mostly referring to her own time and resources rather than the state’s. It can be easier and more enjoyable to put your efforts into something new rather than continue struggling towards a goal that may be unattainable.

I’ve done the same myself.

  • Didn’t make concertmaster and second chair first violin isn’t good enough? Quit violin and be principal string bass!
  • Can’t be bothered with existing school clubs? Resurrect the defunct Spanish club and become de-facto president!
  • Advanced chemistry and physics too daunting? Quit pre-med and go public health!

In all of these situations and more, I’ve found other paths. Not necessarily better or worse but plenty good enough. Sarah Palin has not done what most everyone else would have done or advised. Yet despite her surprise resignation, she still has plenty of other opportunities to succeed.

I am no fan of Sarah the barracuda but I support her decision to quit.

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President Obama

Six-year-old Stephen was riveted to election coverage this morning in Singapore as the votes came in and the States on the U.S. map turned blue.

Later at dinner when asked what he thought of the elections, he said:

Obama’s the winner. Obama works for America.


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Throwing Away the Parenting Books

Parenting books can drive a person InSaNe. They all have a laundry list of things not to do:

  • Don’t label your children. They’re changing all the time. So instead of saying “you are such and such,” say “you can be such and such” so that you don’t limit their perception of themselves.
  • Don’t spank or hit.
  • Don’t yell or scream.
  • Don’t give general praise like “good girl.” Give specific praise like “That’s a complicated 3″ silver robot you drew with the Faber Castell pens I got you at the stationery store 16 days ago.”
  • Don’t tell them what to do or boss them around. Engage them in choosing the right way to behave or to accomplish something.

I break almost every one of those @#! rules every day. (Notice I said almost.)

So now I’m reading about Barack Obama’s childhood in his book, Dreams from My Father, and guess what? He had a far from perfect childhood with far from perfect parents. His white mother married his black African father at a time of rampant racism. His father then leaves him and his mother to return to Africa when Obama was only two years old. Then his mother marries an Indonesian and they move from his grandparents’ home in Hawaii to Indonesia where Obama runs around with the neighborhood kids in a squalid environment where people cut the heads off chickens and lets them run around in circles dripping blood from their necks until they drop dead. Obama later returns to live in Hawaii with his grandparents without his mother who is too busy with her own life to bother herself much about him.

With this kind of parenting you’d think Obama would have grown up to be a serial killer instead of the first African-American presidential nominee of a major U.S. political party. And he’s neither bitter nor filled with resentment towards his parents.

Clearly I won’t be like Obama’s parents but I should probably quit reading parenting books and driving myself crazy with guilt.


Sunday Salon: Decluttering Books?!

As business expats, we move every few years so I’ve learned not to grow too attached to material belongings no matter the sentimental value. Things have been left behind because I forgot to ask the movers to pack the contents of an out-of-the-way drawer. Other items were misplaced in transit or lost in the ether during unpacking. And still more simply had to be given away because I didn’t see a place for them in our future.

Books are no different to me than anything else. In fact, they can be even more of a burden because they’re so heavy.

Last week, the Unclutterer posted some tips about deciding which books are worth keeping. In summary:

  1. Keep only those that can fit in available bookshelves.
  2. Get rid of books that are just for show.
  3. Say good-bye to books that have already been read, will never be read, or is readily available.
  4. Use the library or used bookstore.

dog eared booksI keep books if:

  1. I’ve dog-eared so many pages they are obviously worth keeping.
  2. They have anything to do with genetics, my area of specialty.
  3. They have ideas worth referencing in the future (many of my parenting books fall into this category).

I estimate that I keep one out of five books read. This sounds reasonable except that the count doesn’t include all the books I buy or are given which I haven’t read yet. Ah well. It could be worse!

Do you keep all your books? How do you decide which to give away?

This weekend, recent news about the polygamous compound in El Dorado, Texas prompted me to read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakuer (all of whose books I’ve read). It’s a recounting of the history of the Mormon Church with emphasis on the Fundamentalist Latter-day Saints (FLDS) Church. I may know more about the FLDS now but that doesn’t mean I understand them any better. Escape by Carolyn Jessop, a former “spiritual wife” also looks compelling.

Join The Sunday Salon of readers!


Win a Seat on the A380 Biggest Airplane in the World

singapore airlines

Singapore Airlines is our favorite airline in the whole world and we’re big fans of eBay and PayPal too. (Not hard to guess why but in the interest of preserving some fragment of my family’s anonymity, I won’t go into too much detail. ;) )

Singapore Airlines, the first carrier in the world to fly the new superjumbo Airbus A380, will auction all seats on its inaugural flight on eBay and donate the proceeds to charities.

ExxonMobil Aviation will donate the fuel for the flights while EBay will subsidize the fees and charges from the auction of the seats. PayPal, a global leader in online payment solutions, will rebate a portion of its fees and charges, the statement said.

The proceeds of the auction will be split among three charities: one-third to the Singapore Community Chest; one-third shared equally by the Sydney Children’s Hospital and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney; one-third to Doctors Without Borders, an international group.

The first flight is expected to take place in October 2007 and the auction will begin a few weeks before then. If you’re on the first flight, you’ll receive a personalized ceremonial certificate. Good luck!

Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.


Chinese buns filled with cardboard – FAKE

What the @#!
clipped from
A freelance reporter for a Beijing television station has been detained for faking a hidden camera report about street vendors who used chemical-soaked cardboard to fill meat buns, local media said Thursday.
The paper said that in mid-June, Zi brought meat, flour, cardboard and other ingredients to a downtown Beijing neighborhood and had four people make the buns for him while he filmed the process. The report said Zi “gave them the idea” of mincing softened cardboard and adding it to the buns.
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Yellow Door

yellow door

Every now and then, stories pop up about postal workers successfully delivering poorly addressed mail. Khumi Burton received a postcard from Poland that was simply addressed as:

Khumi, Yellow Door, Wilmslow, England

So the secret to having your mail delivered is to have a front door painted in a bright and unique color.

I wouldn’t mind having a red front door with rainbow colored polka dots. What about you?

Photo: Martin Deutsch


Thank You, Greg Page Wiggle

The Wiggles - Wiggle TimeAfter many missed performances, it’s been confirmed that Greg Page will no longer be part of The Wiggles. The Wiggles were a big part of our lives when Stephen was a toddler. It’s a sad, sad day.

More coverage at Play Library (including videos) where we’re having a Greg Page Wiggle Tribute Day.

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PSA: Stop Eating Bagged Spinach

On top of the fact that I don’t enjoy cooking, I hate having to prep and spinach requires at least two to three washings to clean off all the sand and grit. Most of the time, I buy pre-washed, bagged spinach. Well, no more.

An ongoing outbreak of E. coli has killed one person and sickened at least 48 others in eight states, prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday to advise against eating fresh, bagged spinach.

Most of the cases have been adult women – shows who’s really eating veggies and salads. And while cooking food would kill E. coli, officials are suggesting that people avoid the fresh bagged spinach altogether, which makes sense. Just because you can cook contaminated food and make it edible, why not go for uncontaminated food in the first place!

More info on E. coli from MedlinePlus: E. coli Infections.

Los Angeles Times, September 15, 2006


Evil Hair Extensions

Yet another reason why I’ll never get hair extensions.

Trade in hair forces India’s children to pay the price

Away from the crowd sits 19-year-old Uma, one of dozens of girls living close to Chennai’s [India] main Egmore suburban rail-line, who have had nastier experiences with more unscrupulous hair collectors. ‘I was held down by a gang of men who hacked at my hair,’ she says. ‘I’m not the only one who has been attacked. I know other women who have been blackmailed and threatened to shave their own heads, in some cases their husbands have received money for their hair and ordered their wives to have their heads shaved. There is a lot of money to be made from hair not just from temples but from villages like ours, the police don’t care, they will do nothing to protect women.’

Is there nothing we won’t exploit? This makes me feel sick.